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Forster Barge: 24-28m

Descending the anchor line will bring the barge and surrounding low-profile reef into view.  Forster Barge itself rests on a bed of reef creating an overhang for turtles and catfish to hide under.  The barge and surrounding reef are textured by old barnacles and worm tubes, covered in brown algae, and decorated by sponges in orange, yellow and pink.   One edge of the barge rests on a higher rock, creating a gap beneath the barge which shelters wobbegong sharks and schooling striped catfish.  Sporadic hull sections have collapsed over the years to reveal the internal framework and also provide a view beneath the intact sections.  Moray eels and wobbygong sharks often hide within the enclosed areas of the barge.   Forster Barge is a grey nurse shark aggregation site.  It is common to find two or three different water layers with varied visibility and temperature over Forster Barge.  Often grey nurse sharks will congregate in the water column at the border between water layers, accompanied by schools of big eye.    The top surface of the barge, flat areas of the surrounding reef, and the sandy patches between are all littered with shark teeth.  Photographers will be kept occupied by plenty of nudibranchs.   No-decompression time is limited by the consistent depth of this dive site at around 28 meters over both Forster Barge and the surrounding reef.    Forster Barge is located near the estuary entrance at the border where outgoing, nutrient rich, fresh water fights for supremacy with incoming salt water.  The high nutrient content of outgoing fresh water may account for the density and variety of marine life at this site.   At low tide the outgoing fresh water dominates and passes over Forster Barge, bringing colder water with low visibility.  At high tide, the incoming salt water pushes back the fresh water and provides warmer water with good visibility.  Visibility ranges from 7 meters to 30 meters and will change quickly as the tide turns.    Water temperature similarly ranges from 14 to 24 degrees, and the mix of fresh and salt water may make Forster Barge several degrees colder than nearby dive sites.  Thermoclines are particularly pronounced over Forster Barge.   Tidal currents and boat traffic in the area make blue water ascents inadvisable, even with a surface marker buoy, so you should make all effort to end the dive on the anchor line.